Scientology group plans vigil for Timithy, 9

Charlotte Observer, April 2, 1999
By Erica Beshears

BANNER ELK -- A national group that opposes human rights abuses in psychiatric care will hold a vigil next Friday in Banner Elk, where 9-year-old Timithy Thomas died March 11.

Although Timithy lived at the Grandfather Home for Children, which is not a psychiatric center, a vigil is appropriate because the group opposes the use of all restraints on children, said Marla Filidei, vice president of the Los Angeles-based Citizen's Commission on Human Rights. The commission was established by the Church of Scientology.

Timithy suffocated in a padded room soon after an employee restrained him with a basket hold, a commonly used but controversial technique to restrain out-of-control youths.

The Avery County Sheriff's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation continue to probe the incident, but no charges have been filed.

The vigil, set for 7 to 9 p.m. at Tate-Evans Park in Banner Elk, will commemorate Timithy's life.

The commission supports federal legislation filed last week that would regulate when physical or mechanical restraints could be used, and would require reporting of any deaths or serious injuries in psychiatric facilities.

It is unclear whether the legislation would apply to residential treatment centers such as the Grandfather Home.

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